Sourdough Idlis with Cherry-Peanut Chutney

garden cometh
ichiban eggplant and yellow squash in morning sun

cherry-peanut chutney ingredients
beautiful dried michigan cherries ~ you can bring some of these beauties home in case you miss the National Cherry Festival in July. Did you know that the airport in Traverse City, MI, is called Cherry Capitol Airport? I just love that. 🙂

I made ‘white salad’ for the “W” of Nupur’s A-Z of Indian Vegetables. White salad? Where was my mind?? What kind of nonsense was that!?? It was desperation, that’s what it was. It did taste good, but today I felt the need to redeem myself in the kitchen. I put urad dal to soak last night, and I tried an experiment: idlis with sourdough leaven. They came out better than I hoped!

The chutney was a surprise success as well. The rich, dark, not-too-sweet taste of dried cherries, mellowed by soaking, combined with fresh salty and slightly-sweet taste of boiled peanuts is delightful. Nothing else is necessary, but a simple seasoning brings out the best of flavors.

Sourdough Idlis
makes about 20 idlis

1/2 c whole washed urad dal (soak overnight, drain, reserve soaking water)
1 c idli rava
1 tsp methi seeds (soak overnight)
1 tsp salt
1 heaping TB active sourdough starter


Grind (I used food processor with metal blade) the dal and methi to a smooth paste, adding reserved soaking water as necessary to make a medium-thick batter. Add the idli rava and the salt and grind further, adding more soaking water as necessary. I have only made idlis once before this, so I was working on instinct for the consistency of the batter. Finally add the sourdough starter, mix another minute, and turn the batter into a large bowl to ferment.

Let this ferment outdoors (was near 90 today) covered, for awhile. Or you can put it into the oven which had been heated to 100F and then turned off. When the batter is about double in size (4-6 hrs depending on your weather!), it’s time to make idlis.

Steam the idlis as usual. Meanwihle, make the chutney.

Dried Cherry-Peanut Chutney
makes about 2/3 c

1 tsp canola oil
1/2 c fresh boiled peanuts with skins on
3-4 green chiles, chopped (I seeded mine)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c onion, chopped
1/4 c dried cherries, soaked 1/4 c warm water
1 tsp cumin seeds (roast if you like, but not necessary)
salt to taste (only if the peanuts were boiled without salt)


Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the garlic and chiles. Cook over medium heat about 2-3 minutes, till fragrant. Add the chopped onion and fry, stirring, until browned. Add boiled peanuts and cook, stirring, long enough to warm the peanuts — a minute or two should do it.
Switch off the heat and allow to cool.

Grind peanut/onion mixture together with the soaked cherries and as much of their soaking water as necessary to get the consistency you prefer.

Voila, redemption!

sourdough idlis with cherry-peanut chutney



  1. Suganya said

    I like the twist you have added to the traditional idlis. Quite innovative.

    Thank you Suganya — I was happy the experiment worked 🙂

  2. sra said

    Cherry, peanut chutney? Way to go, Linda!

    It was a pleasant surprise, Sra, thanks! 🙂

  3. trupti said

    whoa……those look delightful, and the chutney, well….well…lets just say that this is one of those things that needs to be tried out! I love your creativity, Linda. 🙂

    Thanks Trupti — it’s good to see your smiling face 🙂

  4. Shammi said

    Redemption for YOU, maybe, Linda… but it’s most definitely Temptation (with a capital T) for me! 🙂 I wonder if the sourdough starter made your batter rise quicker…

    If you try it Shammi, I hope you like it 🙂 I think you hit the nail on the head there — think the sourdough got the idly batter working super-quick 🙂

  5. Asha said

    Idlies with sourdough yeast!! And you don’t need to ferment overnight either !!That is a great news for me,I like that.Looks like white cloud! Hey,that’s another idea for W!:D
    Cherry and Peanut chutney.You are gone gourmet!
    Yesterday,I read in a book that Michigan made first “Soda Pop” in the country in 1806!No wonder you are inventing your own stuff too!:))

    Hi Asha, yea, was suprised how quick the batter rose with the sourdough! And the idlies didn’t taste sourdough-y either — they were light. Michigan cherries are yummy even when dried. Seeing everyone using fresh cherries got me craving some too, but I won’t get any till next month. Hmm… maybe cherry soda-pop huh? 😉 Have a great day, waiting for your Weds. post tmo! 🙂

  6. Priya said

    Hi Linda,

    Idly looks great!

    I established a Rice flour Sourdough starter this week. I Made Sooji and Sago (Tapioca Pearls) Idly with that. They turned out very nice. I am in the process of exploring Gluten Free cooking and Baking. I would appreciate your suggestions.

    Hi Priya, sounds like you already have some great ideas for gluten-free — rice flour sourdough sounds like genius! I will peek to see if you posted that, sounds like one I want to try. There are lots of yummy gluten-free choices with Indian food — one more reason to love it 🙂

  7. Tee said

    This is something out of the box 🙂 loved your idea of sourdough idli and cherry -peanut chutney!

    Thank you Tee! Sometimes it’s fun to think outside that box, yep 🙂

  8. Richa said

    plants look so good, linda! my zuchini flowers are dropping, any idea why?

    that cherry peanut chutney seems like a must try, using boiled peanuts in chutney is so innovative of you 🙂 idli looks soft, ready to eat now 🙂

    Thanks Richa, was really happy with the idlies and chutney. Was suprised to find the fresh peanuts at the Indian store, and they turned out yummy 🙂 I don’t know about your zucchini plant in particular, but I have read that with alot of squash, first you get alot of male flowers (without the baby squash behind them) and they will tend to fall off, esp early in summer. Maybe expert gardeners Inji or ISG or Bee know the answer? Wish you good luck with it!

  9. bee said

    i’m sure they tasted better than regular ilis with the starter. good one. your plants look tall and healthy.

    Thanks Bee — that eggplant came back from the dead to blossom — few cool nights we had in June stunted it, methinks.

  10. Mishmash! said

    Dried cherry and peanut chutney is bookmarked 🙂 hmm…using the leavening agent must have saved your some time right ?


    Hi Shn… I was surprised how quick the idly batter rose and you’re right, I think it was the sourdough did the trick. Did not seem to affect the taste either. If you try the chutney, I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  11. sharmi said

    that is a very yummy chutney. nice combination.

    Thank you Sharmi! 🙂

  12. Coffee said

    AHH!!! Idlis!! They look absolutely fluffy and ready to pop in the mought with the cherry peanut chutney! Lovely plans up there Linda! Very beautiful. 🙂

    Thanks Coffee — I was so surprised with the idlies! Warm weather now so hope the plants keep growing 🙂

  13. sudhav said

    Hi linda, thats a total twist to normal idli’s..great…the idli’s look so soft..thanks for sharing dear..thanks for tagging me ..will surly play…

    Hi Sudha, so happy to see you here! Will look forward to reading your meme — glad you liked the idlis 🙂

  14. neroli said

    Hello, Linda, and many thanks for this great presentation and recipe.
    Last week, I made idlis, and froze most of them, as I’m the only one who eats them—and my son and I picked cherries, some of which are also in the freezer—what wonderful timing, what a happy day!

    Hi Neroli, a day cherry-picking with your son!? That sounds like lots of fun, a happy day indeed 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the recipe, thanks for visiting!

  15. indosungod said

    Linda those idlies look like soft cloud, sourdough starter eh? who knew, will come in handy in the winter when it is hard to get the batter to ferment.

    Cherries and Boiled Peanuts Genius Linda, that chutney looks mouth wateringly tasty. Only used roasted peanuts never boiled fresh peanuts. I should try this soon. Fresh cherries will work too right?

    ISG, you’re back! Happy to see you – hope you really enjoyed your break to the Falls. Did you get some pics?? It’s been years since I was there.

    Glad you liked these recipes — the sourdough was a happy surprise! And yes, I imagine the fresh cherries would work too 🙂

  16. Hema said

    ……and thus, sourdough idlis get into the ‘to-be-patented’ list! Way to go lady! you amaze me everytime:)

    Oooh Hema, thank you! Now, do you think we could patent it!?!? Then sell the patent and get seed money for that little takeaway 😉

  17. Deepa said

    the idlis are so soft ..Must have been great to it ….I love those idlis of ur’s …Must have tasted great

    Hi Deepa, and thanks! The sourdough is easy to make at home — it just takes time. If you’d like to try sometime, let me know and I will send you some starter. Glad you liked the idlis! 🙂

  18. Komal said


    You’ve been tagged

    Hi Komal, thank you for tagging me. I’ve actually already written this meme here — it’s a little confusing to tell from the title though 🙂

  19. sia said

    linda my dear u always amaze me with ur creativity and go ga-ga over those pictures. i am again speeachless. i will go through ur sourdough starter post again. and that cherry chuteny!!! let’s say i am on my way for some serious shopping 😀

    Hi Supriya, wait a minute — that’s what I do at your blog — go ga-ga drooling over the pictures and plan my shopping list! 😉

    Thanks for your lovely comments dear… let me know if you need help with sourdough, and if you try the chutney I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  20. priyanka said

    Hi Linda,
    jumped onto your blog through another blogroll. The idlies and cherry-peanut chutney are quite an innovative touch, especially the chutney looks very inviting. thanks for sharing.

    Hi Priyanka, glad you came by! Thanks for your kind words — I’m happy you enjoyed 🙂

  21. prema said

    Idly has got a lovely white colour linda… both the recipes are quite innovative and looks very good.

    Thank you Prema, I’m glad you liked! I was pleasantly surprised by sourdough idlis 🙂

  22. Luv2Cook said

    YAY…your eggplant and my eggplant are twins/cousins hehe..Mine looks exactly the same only a wee bit bigger :)….

    Howdy, Cousin! 😉

  23. […] starter makes them silken and delicious with a higher puff rate. Or make Nic’s crumpets. Or idlis, like Linda […]

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